The Doctor Knows Best

A hundred years ago doctors used a technique of  blood-letting to remove the ‘bad things’ in a patient’s blood which was supposed to make them well. I wonder how that worked out?

Do you know that mercury was once the cure for most anything that bothered a person…including poor thinking skills, since it pretty much destroyed brain cells.

Narcotics such as morphine, chloroform, heroin and cannabis were used to calm children so that their parent’s could handle them better, all with the backing of the medical community.

The inventor of the lobotomy was given a Nobel Prize in 1949.  Over 70,000 people were treated with this procedure before doctors decided it might not be a good idea to poke around in the brain with an ice pick. Imagine pushing a pick into the eye to relieve depression, schizophrenia or most any mental disorder. I get depressed thinking about it.  I wonder if it is was covered by health insurance!

At one time doctors advised people to drink their own urine.  That’s right, urine, to correct a whole list of ailments.  One could also use it as a skin rub or, get ready for this, an enema.
In the 50’s and 60’s the weight loss pill of choice was pure crack!  Imagine that, getting thin and high on just one pill; what a marketing concept!   And if an individual only want to take one remedy, he could swallow a dehydrated tapeworm and let nature take its course.

A condition known as female hysteria was treated by doctors using a vaginal massage which was later improved on with the invention of the vibrator.

You might wonder where I am going with all this seemingly useless information about doctors in the past who knew very little about how the human body works.  Well, do you think there is a chance that modern medical practices are still a little bit out of focus?
Let me tell you a quick story; well perhaps it will not be so quick. My wife developed a cough in mid-March of 2010.  In May she went to see a local doctor who gave her some kind of breathing treatment which did little to stop the cough.  In early June she visited another local doctor who did an x-ray.  When she returned to hear the results a week later, the doctor never showed up but later called to tell her the x-ray showed nothing.  In mid-August she made an appointment with an allergists  in Winchester.  He gave her lots of drugs and inhalers to control the cough.  After a second meeting with him she decided that his treatment was going nowhere and asked him to send her to a pulmonologist.  By the way, at this point she was still coughing terribly and not getting much sleep.  In the middle  of September she had this appointment with the pulmonologist.  He also ordered an x-ray; oh goody, more radiation!   After the x-ray showed nothing, he ordered a CT scan, which is another type of x-ray.  The scan showed a mass of infection at the bottom of both lungs (Pneumonia).  During this entire ordeal Sue was on three separate doses of antibiotics.   The pulmonologist ordered a bronchoscopy which reveals the type of the infection in Sue’s lungs.   He orders a stronger antibiotic which seems to work as long as she took  the pills.  Shortly after the prescription the coughing returns with a vengeance.  On October 25th he suggests that she see an infectious disease doctor and gave her a prescription of antibiotics to keep the infection under control until we could see the new doctor on December 2.  She met with the doctor who he told her she would need to be on an intravenous treatment of several antibiotics for up to three weeks.  We told the doctor we’d think about this.

On the way home I ask Sue if she wanted to try an alternative approach. She replied, “What do I have to lose?”   That night I sat down at my terminal to read as much as I could about alternative approaches to treating pneumonia.  I came up with a concoction of fruits and vegetables that are supposed to aid the body in healing.  The next morning I ventured to the grocery store to purchase the necessary ingredients, got home, pulled out the dusty juicer and made my first drink, which thanks to the garlic could have killed a person.  We decided to take the garlic in a different manner so that with little tweaking the juice became quite drinkable.  At this point Sue had decided not to take the antibiotics but instead rely on my witch’s brew to heal her.  Within a  week she began to notice an improvement.  Progress was slow but steady. The coughing was easing and she was noticing a difference in her breathing.

However, she realized that somewhere along the way she lost her sense of smell.  Our theory is that the inhalers somehow destroyed the nerve endings in her nose after using them for so long.  It is now April, 2011 and Sue is 98% cured. She still coughs a little in the morning but that seems to be decreasing everyday.  Her nose is showing signs of working again. I still get up and make the magic drink which she has learned to enjoy.  The other day she asked me when I would stop and I replied,” When you quit coughing in the morning.”
So there you have it, a very long story about our journey through the medical system.  I am sure that many of you have  similar stories.  I often wonder how our practice of medicine will be viewed in the future.  I have no doubt that others will look at them the same way we look at some of the highly dubious practices of the 19th century.  My suggestion is to read, read and read some more.  We are in the age of information so that anyone who does not utilize it to educate him-selves on staying healthy is foolish!   If a doctor is bothered by the fact that you have read extensively and so have questions about his diagnosis, get a new doctor!

“Just when I needed you most”

Over the past couple years I have lost several friends and acquaintances to various diseases.  The main cause of these deaths has been cancer.  What a horrible disease it is, because it can strike you down from the moment you are born until old age.   There is no part of the body that is immune to the ravages of cancer.   I have been told that we all have some cancer cells in our body but most of us are able to keep them at bay.

There seems to be a pattern to the way we interact with people who have life-threatening diseases.  Initially we shower them with food, cards and flowers to show our sympathy, but as time goes on and their disease progresses, we tend to move away.  I have seen myself do this and have asked why.  Many answers come to mind.  I wonder if I simply do not want to face my own mortality or witness a friend’s approaching death.  I may find myself wondering if they want my company.  The problem is perhaps in me.

The real shame is that we need each other, not just when times are good but when times are bad; in fact, to state the obvious, we need each other more in bad times.  There must be some way to work through this.  If I were sick and dying, I would not want to feel as though I were a burden on others, nor do I want a lot of sympathy but I would want companionship.  So I face a quandary; I am not going to call someone to ask him to come to sit with me while I die?  In reality, I may want someone to spend time talking or just watching TV.  On the other hand, my friend may not want to come over to be a burden or over stay his welcome when he is not sure I even want him to be there.  Wow!  This is a real dilemma!

I used to visit an elderly lady who very much enjoyed my visits until she developed cancer; then her mood changed so that I no longer felt welcome.  I was very hurt that she did not want me to visit anymore but honored her wishes and quit dropping by.  To this day I still do not know if I did the right thing.

If someone you know is dealing with a horrific disease, take the time to call, send a card or drop by to let them know you still care.  It may be hard to do but it is the right thing to do.